Pastor charged with raping 14-year-old church elder's daughter; 4 accusers come forward

Pexels/Kindel Media
Pexels/Kindel Media

The pastor of a California church for Central American immigrants has been arrested and is being held on $10 million dollars bond as a result of sexual abuse accusations against him from four victims who reported their claims to authorities. 

Fifty-three-year-old Pastor Victor Hernandez-Pineda has pleaded not guilty to 16 charges involving the sexual abuse of four victims in Contra Costa County Court on Jan. 17, according to KGO-TV's Dan Noyes.

Prosecutors have charged him with 16 criminal counts, including several counts of forcible rape of a child under 14, forcible rape of a person over 14, lewd act upon child and child molestation. 

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Hernandez-Pineda is pastor of Iglesia Pentecostes Momiento De Gloria Church in Richmond in the East Bay area. 

Pablo Cifuentes, a senior official at the church, discovered that Hernandez-Pineda had sexually abused his daughter, Karen. Cifuentes told KGO in December that his 21-year-old daughter recently informed him and her mother that Hernandez-Pineda sexually abused her when she was 13. She alleges that the pastor told her that it was "God's will" for them to have sex. 

"He said that I was his 'friend.' He said that I was his 'right-hand man.' But, when I found out, he made me so angry," he said. 

Karen Ciuffuentes alleges that Hernandez-Pineda sexually abused her five times over a three-year span. She recalled the pastor would pose as a family member to take her out of school and bring her to hotels to abuse her sexually. 

In an interview with KGO, she recalls the first time he took her to a hotel near her school. 

"And at that moment, I told him that I didn't feel safe," she told KGO, adding that she resisted because he was married, much older and her pastor. "I didn't feel good and that we shouldn't do it. But, he made me do it."

The 21-year-old hopes that Hernandez-Pineda goes to jail. 

"I don't feel safe. He could harm me because I'm asking for help," she said. "And he could find out and harm me. What he did was wrong. It's not right, and I want the police to act."

"It changed my life totally mentally. I was dead. It killed me," Cifuentes added. "I did not think the same. My grades went down. I was angry with my parents at home. I acted out. I could not tell my parents anything. But, I was always worried."

Cifuentes' mother, Sonia Gonzalez, told KGO that it was difficult for her to believe what her daughter told her about the sexual abuse.  

"It was difficult. My daughter was very small. I thought it was my fault for confiding in him. We went to that church searching for love, searching for help, and we found it. But, in the end, we were damaged," she said.  

The family has since left the church and doesn't plan to return. 

"When I found out from my daughter's lips what had happened to her, I felt like grabbing him and making him disappear. But, I also understood that doing it with my own hands would get me into trouble," Pablo Cifuentes said. 

Instead of retaliating, the father filed a report with the Richmond Police Department. However, he didn't hear back from the police, so he contacted Noyes and the KGO I-Team. 

Other victims have come forward with additional sexual assault claims against Hernandez-Pineda. 

Joseline Alvarez, 16, came forward claiming that she was touched in a sexual manner against her will in November when the pastor requested a private meeting with her in a room upstairs in the church.

"He hugged me, like very tight, like he didn't like want to let me go. And then, he started like touching my thigh. … And then after that, he got my hand and put it in his thigh," Alvarez said.

She added that the pastor tried to kiss her, which made her feel uncomfortable, prompting her to leave the church building.

"I just didn't know what to think because, like, he's a pastor; like, why would he do that to me?" she said. 

Alvarez's mother feels torn apart and has also left the church.

"It worried me a lot because I felt that something worse was going to happen to her. I got angry. I got very upset because he is a pastor. That's not right what he did," the mother said.  

Hernandez-Pineda's church once averaged roughly 150 congregants on an average Sunday for his religious services. But with multiple sexual assault allegations, church attendance has dwindled. 

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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